My kids couldn’t wait to go trick or treating alone with their friends. We, however, had some trepidation. But, come Middle School and High School, we caved and came up with a plan with other parents to make it happen. The kids had fun and all the parents survived watching our kids spread their wings of independence.
When our kids walked out the door dressed as witches, superheros, cartons of milk, aliens, presidential candidates and everything else they could think of, they just went. Some had cell phones, some did not. But, the use of cell phones was just starting to take hold. For you, however, and your kids, the use of cell phones, APPs, and social media is a way of life. So, for times like Halloween, the use of those tools can be invaluable in planning the evening and keeping your kids of all ages safe.
Regardless of the features of the phone, you and your child can sit down and create a plan for checking in tonight so that the evening runs smoothly and you both know everyone is safe. Having a charged phone with each child is also helpful in case a medical situation occurs such as an accident or a bug bite such as a bee sting.
Here are some of my favorite features for family check-ins:
1. Phone Calls: This is the best option if your child’s phone can’t text. Pick a specific time and have your child quickly call home and let you know he or she is fine.
2. Texting: For kids who text, this is likely the feature they will prefer. As with phone calls, pick a time for checking in.
3. Iphone Find My Friends: I love this feature – and so do my kids. It is a great peace of mind feature. It comes with the newer iPhones and you can find it in the APP store for the older iPhones. If you are unfamiliar with how to use this APP, click here for the Apple Support guide. Once you have everyone in your family signed up, you’ll see a map with everyone’s location. This APP plus a return plan may be all you need. It’s worked well in my home.
4. Android “Find My Friends” equivalents: Android phones do not have the same “Find My Friends” feature but there are some APP equivalents that are well rated. Here is a link to a few APPS similar to iPhone’s “Find My Friends” that APP experts recommend.
In addition to a high-tech safety plan, review with your kids where they plan to go. For some towns, it may make sense to drop the kids off, let them go out and about and then pick them up. In other towns, it may make sense to have a plan where they leave from a home and return by a certain town. Whatever plan you create with your kids, be sure everyone knows the plan.
Finally, especially for middle school kids who may be off on their maiden halloween run alone, review basic trick or treat safety such as:
- Avoid wearing a mask that blocks vision
- Don’t stop for any car or stranger
- Don’t go up to a house that is dark
- Don’t eat any candy until you get home and go through it to be sure a package isn’t opened and the candy truly is candy.
- Have a flashlight with each child.
- Make sure all cell phones are charged. Common sense for adults but not always common sense for kids.
With some technology in hand and simple safety plans, I have no doubt tonight will be fun and safe for your family.
Happy Halloween 2016!